Bangladesh Starts Philippine-Style Drug War On “Yaba”

By Victoria Kim 05/23/18

Reports of Philippine-style extrajudicial killings have turned up in Bangladesh. 

Busy street in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

The country of Bangladesh is in the midst of its own “Philippine-style” war on drugs, reports Deutsche Welle.

According to Bangladeshi authorities, 26 suspected drug dealers have been killed while thousands more have been arrested as the government cracks down on drug activity in the South Asian nation.

A drug called “yaba”—a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine—is a particular problem in Bangladesh. The country is having trouble keeping the drug from passing through its southeastern border from Myanmar, where much of it is manufactured, according to DW.

“We’ve contained (Islamist) militancy. Now we’ve taken an initiative to save the country from this drug menace,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Due to the violent and aggressive nature of the anti-drugs campaign, it is being likened to the drug war in the Philippines, where human rights activists estimate more than 12,000 suspected drug users and dealers, as well as innocent people, have been killed in the name of eradicating drug activity.

Reports of Philippine-style extrajudicial killings—“cold-blooded murders by police and the elite security force”—have turned up in Bangladesh as well.

“By killing suspects during raids, the security forces are violating the country’s legal system. These actions will promote a culture of arbitrariness in society,” said Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of Bangladesh’s National Human Rights Commission.

“Extrajudicial killings are unacceptable in a democratic country. The authorities must respect human rights and respect the rule of law during their operations.”

Bangladeshi anti-drug officials report seizing a record 40 million “yaba pills” in 2017—of an estimated 250-300 million that entered the market.

In 2016, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte promised to kill 100,000 criminals in the first six months of his presidency. He encouraged violent anti-drugs enforcement through the Philippine National Police (PNP) and praised mass killings of drug suspects.

Referring to one 24-hour period last summer during which 32 people were reportedly killed by Philippine police, Duterte said, “Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

The Philippine government is now under preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its violent war on drugs, Human Rights Watch reported in February.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr